Kansas City Student Gives Thanks for NCSY Israel Summer Program, Michlelet
The following letter was written by Shella Friedman, a Kansas City, KS high school student, to Todd Cohn, Kansas City’s National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) chapter advisor. NCSY is the Orthodox Union’s national youth program. Shella attends Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy and is spending her summer in Israel on Michlelet, an NCSY summer program.
On Michelet, high school girls spend four weeks at the Reishit Yerushalayim Yeshiva in Bet Shemesh, Israel, studying Torah, visiting ancient and contemporary sites, playing sports, and strengthening their commitment to Judaism and Israel. The girls choose from a wide range of stimulating classes in Halacha (Jewish law), Chumash (Bible), and Jewish philosophy, all of which are offered at the beginner and advanced levels and are taught by renowned rabbis from the United States and Israel.
Michlelet provides the girls with an environment in which they develop their own special connection with Torah study and Jewish thought and increase their love and devotion to Torah and the land of Israel. Shella reflects here about her current experience on Michlelet, and how thankful she is to those who helped her get there.
“This is an open letter to the people who were instrumental in allowing me to spend a summer in my homeland learning Torah.
I can't even begin to tell you how incredibly thankful I am to be on Michlelet right now. I'm sorry it's taken so long for me to write but I really wanted to have experienced at least some of what this program has to offer. I wanted to tell you exactly how amazing it is and how much fun I am having. I really don't think I can put it into words, but I’m going to try.
I've only been here for just over a week and it's so strange for me to say that, because it really feels like a lifetime. Everything we do is like nothing I've ever experienced before—from hiking, to learning, to the amazing speakers we are so lucky to hear, to even just spending time with all the amazing teens and madrichot (counselors).
Although the hikes are difficult and tiring, in the end it’s always worth it. The last hike we went on was in Eilat to the top of a mountain that overlooks the Yam Suf (Red Sea). Even though wake up was at four in the morning, every second of sleep lost was made up by being able to daven Shacharit (say the morning prayers) and say Az Yashir (Song of the Sea) while standing on the top of the mountain.
I feel that nothing I could say could even come close to describing how amazing I feel. The teens on this program all want to constantly learn and to be involved in Torah, and the madrichot are always free and willing to help you or learn with you when ever you want to. Just being surrounded by these people has such a great impact on me. Learning with these amazing madrichot and girls makes it that much more meaningful and exciting to go to classes each day.
I am constantly thinking about how lucky I am to be here, in the Holy Land, in Eretz Yisrael learning and connecting with my roots while having the time of my life. It's very difficult for me to describe it, but if you could only see how happy I am just to wake up here each day you would understand everything I am feeling. I can't help but smile. There’s really nothing more that I could ask for. Truly, truly, truly from the deepest part of my heart, THANK YOU, for everything.”
Sincerely from my...from our homeland,